Brief Argues that Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Erred in Ruling Arizona Proposition 200 Violates NVRA
Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief (State of Arizona, et al. v Inter Tribal Council of Arizona et al. (No. 1271)) on December 14, 2012, with the United States Supreme Court challenging the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declaring that Arizona’s Proposition 200, requiring proof of citizenship in order to register to vote, violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Judicial Watch filed the amicus brief on behalf of former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the driving force behind Prop 200, also known as the Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Projection Act.
Proposition 200, passed in 2004 with 56% of the vote, provides that state election officials “shall reject any application for registration that is not accompanied by satisfactory evidence of United States citizenship.” Such evidence can include a driver’s license, a photocopy of a birth certificate or passport, naturalization documents, or “other documents that are meant as proof that [may be] established pursuant to” federal immigration laws.
On April 17, 2012, the Ninth Circuit ruled that voter registration provisions of Arizona’s Proposition 200 violated certain provisions of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. On October 15, 2012, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council, a challenge to Proposition 200.
With its amicus curiae brief Judicial Watch maintains that the Ninth Circuit erred when ruling that the NVRA “accept and use” provision prohibited states from requiring additional documentation:
The NVRA also does not provide that it is the exclusive authority on eligibility verification or that, as the Ninth Circuit contended, “Arizona’s only role was to make [the Federal] [F]orm available to applicants and to ‘accept and use’ it for the registration of voters.” [Emphasis added] The language of the statute not only does not prohibit additional documentation requirements, it permits states to “require . . . such identifying information . . . as is necessary to enable the appropriate State election official to assess the eligibility of the applicant . . .” Besides express authorization for a state to “develop and use” a form compliant with the statute’s criteria, the NVRA also provides that “each State shall establish procedures to register to vote in elections for Federal office . . .”
Judicial Watch further argues that, “The Ninth Circuit also failed to give any weight to the stated goal of the NVRA to ‘protect the integrity of the electoral process’ and ‘enhance the participation of eligible citizens as voters in elections for Federal office’ as guiding purposes of the statute. [Emphasis added] Under no sensible reading of the statute is the goal of election integrity advanced by allowing non-citizens to vote.”
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